Pablo Picasso once said, “All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” It’s a slightly obvious statement, but nonetheless it’s still quite a profound one. As a child, we are not just physically encouraged to create, we are mentally and emotionally free to create. We are not yet intimidated by those who came before us, or frozen in fear of those waiting to judge us. As a child a crayon has no limitation. However, as we get older we are made to see limitations, processes, and expectations. Learning is definitely a positive action, but sometimes this education can also come at the price of insecurity. We begin to focus on our perceived limitations, rather than all our possible potential. The difference between letting this insecurity overwhelm us, and remaining an artist, as Picasso pondered, lies in our support systems. Last weekend I had the benefit of attending an event who’s goal is to facilitate this type of positive reinforcement, and build up young artists of all types.
AWAKENING, was a live integrated art showcase put on by Raw Natural Born Artists at NYC’s newly reopened Cutting Room. The event featured a collection of aspiring musicians, poets, dancers, and visual artists of all types. The difference between this showcase, and the many other showcases that happen in New York all the time, is that AWAKENING knows exactly what it is: An event aimed at giving a little bit of exposure and a lot of encouragement to New York’s bourgeoning independent artist community. AWAKENING did not promise to uncover the next Basquiat or even the next “Babyface”. They simply promised a cool event, good drinks, and the opportunity to be exposed to some creatives who really know the meaning of “hustle hard.”
As I wandered through the event, you could literally feel the excitement of the artists to be showing off their skills. They were eager to talk about their art, why or how they created, and even give you some insight into who they were as a person. Having spent a ton of time in my life at stuffy and/or pretentious art events, it was refreshing to engage with artists who weren’t just hungry to “make it”, they were passionate to just create. One artist I spoke with for a few minutes, Justin Gilzene, epitomized this ambitious energy.
A 21 year old kid from the Bronx, Justin made the transition from sketching to painting less than 2 years ago. However, here he was today showcasing his over-sized pop art collection for hundreds of manhattanites. His work is still heavily influenced by pop culture references like “Breaking Bad” that are easily marketable, but his hustle to get to where he is in such a short time needs to be commended. As he matures, hones his talent, and grows in confidence, he is sure to move onto more adventurous and unique subject matter. It is through organizations like Raw Artists that he will gain the confidence to transition from creating for existing markets to creating his own market.
As I walked out of the event with fellow Jones and B editor Rene Ramirez, I remembered why I started this blog. I wanted a public forum for my writing. Partially to showcase my talent, no matter how minimal it may be, and partially to force me to get better at my craft through pressure of public feedback. Honestly, that’s all any real creative wants. A place to be seen, and that little bit of pressure that comes with a public performance that simply can’t be artificially created in our homes or studios.
I highly suggest attending one of Raw Artists’ showcases when they come to a city near you. The musicians, poets, and visual artists at Raw Artists may never make it from hobbyist to professional, but that doesn’t really matter. They need a platform to be seen, and they deserve the encouragement to, as Picasso put it, “remain an artist.”
For more information on Raw Natural Born Artists go to their website www.rawartists.org
For information on Justin Gilzene and “Club Bum & Crak Art” check out their page at www.rawartists.org/clubbum